Zdeno Chara Making Hall of Fame Case With Performance in Stanley Cup Final

Milan Lucic, Zdeno CharaZdeno Chara has always been an elite NHL defenseman, but his performance in the 2013 playoffs has spurred the question of whether he’s among the best defensemen in NHL history. The best are enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Chara — at least in these playoffs — has made quite the case.

Becoming a Hall of Famer requires a full body of work. Chara literally has a big body — among the biggest and strongest bodies of anyone who has played the game — but he must also have the accolades and hardware to make his case.

Chara, one of the key linchpins in the Bruins’ 2013 Stanley Cup run, will be a big factor in Saturday night’s game, where Boston is +130 on the money line. Here’s a look at whether Chara will eventually end up in the Hall of Fame.

Why he won’t be in the Hall of Fame:

One area where Chara could come up short is the hardware, and when it comes to the Hall of Fame, it’s often a numbers game.

Chara really doesn’t have the typical Hall of Fame numbers. He’s tallied just 478 points in 1,055 games played and, while nobody would mix him up with Paul Coffey, points are a big part of the process.

On the whole, Chara only has one Stanley Cup ring so far (the NHL odds now favor the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Cup this year) and one Norris Trophy. That trophy case is a little light. If hardware is in fact the preeminent factor in his entry, he’ll need to stock up a little bit more before he secures his spot.

Why he will be in the Hall of Fame:

Chara might not have a ton of numbers to his name, but he’s still a six-time All-Star, a three-time All-Star captain, a Norris Trophy winner (2009), a Messier Trophy winner (2011) and just the second European-born player to captain a Stanley Cup-winning team (2009). While he might not have points by the boatload, neither do the scoring forwards that are constantly being shut down by him.

For Chara to make the Hall of Fame, he’ll have to get credit for being one of the best shutdown defensemen of his generation. Case and point: The Pittsburgh Penguins only scored two goals in the Eastern Conference finals against the Bruins. He’s been muzzling the opposing team’s best forwards for years. From that perspective, Chara will surely get an invite.

If there is one stat where Chara clearly stands out, it is his plus/minus. He’s currently at +163, which slots him 38th best all-time among defensemen. He’s likely to climb that list the longer he plays, and that will help his case.

This post is presented by Bovada.

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